John 3:1-17

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 3:1-17

                  For most of us, it’s the first verse we memorized as children.  We see it on bumper stickers, bracelets, and banners.  It is the most used slogan on home made poster board signs at sporting events, concerts, and any other place with a crowd and a camera.   Even those with little to no church background are often familiar with this, the most popular passage in all of scripture:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16.  This verse has been called the “Gospel in a nutshell”, for it sums up our hope of salvation.

John uses a distinctive method of conveying Jesus’ teaching known as a discourse, and John 3 is the first of these discourses.  In John’s discourses, one or more people approach Jesus with a question, and Jesus uses it as an opportunity to convey truth in the form on an extended speech.  Sometimes this speech is a few verses, such as here; other times, it takes up an entire chapter (John 10—the Good Shepherd discourse) or even several chapters (the Farewell discourse of John 14-17).  In today’s discourse, a religious leader seeks out time with Jesus, acknowledging Him as a teacher.  Jesus uses this time to teach about new birth and true life.

Here are some key concepts conveyed in this discourse that require examination:  birth, love, and belief.  In John’s world, your birth determined everything about your life.  In order to be a ruler, you must be born into a family of rulers.  If you were born the son of a carpenter, you stayed a carpenter.  So, how could someone born a carpenter teach a ruler?  Jesus shows Nicodemus that in order to know God, one must be born of God (“born again” or “born from above”)  .  Only in experiencing the birth of the Spirit could one know God because one would be a child of God, in the same way only the son of a carpenter could know carpentry.

How does one experience this new birth?  Through God’s love and humanity’s belief.   We think of love in terms of a feeling we have on the inside, but when Jesus uses love it was a term reserved for action demonstrated towards family.  For God to love the world means God showed loyalty to humanity by coming to them.  That is God’s part, but what about ours?  Humans show their love for God by believing.  Again, belief is not merely a feeling or even mental acceptance of a set of facts.  Belief means trust.  It’s one thing to say you believe a boat won’t sink, but true belief means getting into the boat!  Today, you are a “whosoever” that God loves.  Will you experience John 3:16 with your trust?

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

How has the family you were born into determined the kind of life you have had?  How has being “born again” changed your life?  How does the world’s definition of love differ from God’s? 


Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?


What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture